Since 2016 the Pilgerlager has got a developed substructure, the so called Gaffeln (singular „one Gaffel„).
These Gaffeln are designed to fulfill three tasks:
- connecting different player groups and integrate them closely in the camp
- channeling the transfer of information between the leadership and the players so that everybody can participate in every part of the play
- guide players and groups through the play without telling (stimulation for fulfilling civil and religious quests and to take part in the civil and religious life of the camp)
If you google the term „Gaffel“ don’t be surprised that you’ll first find a brewery from Cologne, which is named so. We took this term on purpose (to admit, not because of the beer – sorry!), but because it comes from medieval Rhenish citys and means a special form of organisation of the citizens. Unlike than in other European citys the citizens were not arranged in guilds by their business, but by the quarter they lived in. They were responsible for the defence of a certain part of the city wall, to help and aid members of their Gaffel in emergency situations and in the end to arrange the funeral and take care for commemoration of deceased members – in short: every part of life took place in the Gaffel.
Since the Pilgerlager is not only a camp for soldier characters, but one with military, religious and civil aspects for the life of every single player character (from now on called „PC“), we thought that the historic concept of the „Gaffel“ would be the best to adopt for us.
How it works:
- Your player group will be put in one Gaffel together with other player groups until you reach about 20 to 30 players. To ease communication, the groups of your Gaffel will camp directly next door to each other.
- Every Gaffel has a name, a banner and a crest, wich will be given to you by the organisators.
- Every group of your Gaffel chooses a „Gaffelmeister“ („Gaffel Master“), who is the spokesman of your group inside the Gaffel. Thus one Gaffel has as much Gaffelmeisters as it contains player groups.
- The Gaffelmeisters (normally 2 to 4) stay in touch with each other about the day’s schedule, the quests (which are fulfilled and which are not) and so on.
- Each morning one of your Gaffelmeisters stayes after the morning divine service (10 a.m.) to get a briefing of the day together with the other Gaffelmeisters of the other Gaffeln. (One Gaffelmmeister each per Gaffel)
3. Dutys of the Gaffel and the Gaffelmeisters:
- The Gaffel is the smallest Unit in the military of the Pilgerlager, it will only seldomly be divided to form the well-known great Tercio of pikes.
In most times, the Gaffel with her – eventually wild – mixture of arms and skills will be a semi-independent unit.
- As the signal for deployment sounds, one designated Gaffelmeister has to gather the whole Gaffel (not only your group!) in front of the gate (the Gaffelmeisters should choose who will be the designated one for the next battle in the morning and after every battle, so the responsibilities here are clear).
- If the Gaffel is punctual and complete, they will get a reward. If the Gaffel is not punctual and / or incomplete the reward will be reduced or – in worst case – the Gaffel has to pay a penalty to the leadership.
- In the Pilgerlager there is a general conscription for every PC. Those PCs who cannot or don’t want to fight can serve as baggage or free themselves by paying a small fee (the „Freigeld“ ~ „release fee“) for every battle they do not want to serve in. The designated Gaffelmeister has to bring the Freigeld for his absent PCs, or the Gaffel is counted as incomplete.
- After the Appeal the Gaffelmeisters are normal soldiers and the military officers take the lead. Sometimes the officers will ask the Gaffelmeisters to fulfil small leading tasks.
- After the battle the Gaffeln will be additionally rewarded with medals for special services in the battlefield, which will be attached to the banner of the Gaffel.
- If a Gaffel loses her Banner in battle there is some special punishment: until the Gaffel gets her banner back they have to bear the „Eselsfahne“ („Donkey Banner“) and will be called the „Eselsgaffel“ („Donkey Gaffel“). You may take a proud „Ih-Aah“ as battle call in this case 😀
b) Civil and religious life – the quests:
- In the Pilgerlager are up to four appointments per day, which are mandatory for every PC:
- The devine service in the morning (10 a.m.), where afterwards the plans for the day are told and the ranking of the Gaffeln in earning Trophys (see below) is displayed.
- Three battles a day
- In the „free time“ between these appointments every Gaffel can earn seven trophies. The Trophies are parts of a saint’s picture. If a Gaffel earns all seven trophies she gets her own special picture of Saint Clara.
- To win the trophies, seven quests have to be fulfilled. These quests contain religious and civil tasks and are designed to help the players to fill the camp with religious and civil life.
- To get some drive in this, the Gaffeln can compete, which the „best“ Gaffel in the Pilgerlager is. As the trophies are displayed public in the centre of the camp, everybody can see the current ranking.
- Important: the Quests do not have to be fulfilled by all PCs of a Gaffel, it is sufficient if at least few of them take part in this. By this will be assured, that no player is forced to take part in aspects of play, he or she is not interested in, but as always: the more the merrier!
- The Quests are:
- Pilgrimage to all shrines (probably 5, mostly „accidentally“ near to dangerous spots like the orc-camp) in Streitland („Battle-Land“, the in-play-name of the area where the Epic Empires takes place)
- To hold a Prayer / devotion / devine service in the chapel
- To host a showplace at the Saint-Clara-Fair in Friday night (e.g. like a market stand where you sell something or serve beverages, hosting a shooting gallery or the like- please ask us if you have questions here, since this mostly has to be prepared before the event)
- To sneak in a foreign camp by night and sanctify the alien camp-sanctuary by putting a holy banner of Saint Clara upon it (in ideal case without getting captured)
- To evangelize in a foreign camp by telling a story about Saint Clara (or the like, if you have better ideas!)
- To do a special service for the provost / the clerics of Saint Clara or the Knights of Staint Clara on enquiry (please ask them to give you a task)
- To do some agreeable action in the name of Saint Clara of your own accord
 Fun fact to come back to the part with the beer: since some quarters and houses of the „Gaffeln“ in Cologne had the word „Gaffel“ in their name even long after the Middle Ages, the mentioned brewery took the name to make clear that they are traditionally and local based. The word itself is old German for „fork“, because at festive meals at the „Gaffelhouses“ they would use a fork, which was so extraordinary that it became the name for this kind of organisation.
 We are aware, that the military before 2016 was based on large groups of the same arms, regardless of the actual player groups the respective PCs were based in. Problem here was that every other camp on the Epic Empires had no chance of winning against us as they are much smaller than we are and we were just awfully good organized. They were just wiped away by our Tercio, had no fun when fighting against us and started to avoid the fight. Since we do LARP not for „winning“ something („winning“ a LARP is nothing to write home about), but having fun with our in-play enemies, we decided to decrease our military effectiveness in this way, so the other players and we can both have fun by fighting each other in play.
 Since we noticed in earlier years, that just saying „please bring civil and religious plot“ dos not work very well, we want to give our players a hand in and by this.